Wednesday, July 23, 2014

50 Shades Illogical

I read and review Fifty Shades Freed so you don't have to.

I don't even know where to begin. Maybe with the question I kept thinking over and over during this last section: I'M SORRY, WHAT?????

E.L. James spends the last two numbered chapters of her book trying to wrap everything up in a neat little package. SPOILER ALERT: SHE FAILS. Instead what happens is she creates more questions than she answers, and the few things she does answer have explanations that make NO SENSE. I mean, AT ALL. Seriously, even working from within the horrifying stereotypes she's set out for her characters and "why they are like this" the ultimate, core "reasons" why various people are so fucked up do not follow any known pattern of logic that has been discovered by either philosophy or science. It's like she just vomits words onto a page, has a look, and decides she's satisfied with that effort because she can see some bits of corn in there and she remembers there was corn in the salad she had for lunch a week ago Tuesday.

Chapter 24 begins in Ana's hospital room during breakfast. Side note: despite both being pregnant and constantly mentioning how much she feels like she's starving, Ana is still basically being force fed by Christian right to the end. I guess this is supposed to illustrate Christian's adorable bizarre hang ups about food and eating left over from when his mom was a crack whore and forgot to feed him, but all I can see is a 21 year old girl in deep denial about her dangerous and all consuming eating disorder. Anycrap, they are discussing the baby and Ana casually mentions that, hey, you know, you keep talking about this little boy we're going to be having but do you realize it's possible we could be having a girl? Which, hey good job Ana! The science totally supports your opinion for once! Christian is massively alarmed by this statement. I'm not sure if this literally just did not occur to him, like maybe thinks he ought to be able to control his sperm and make it so only the male ones can swim through sheer force of will because I AM THE MASTER OF MY HOUSE or something, or if having a girl is somehow the end of the world in his mind for any number of misogynist reasons. Personally, I am also alarmed because while no child of his is likely to be allowed their own personhood or encouraged to develop autonomy or even so much as their own opinion regardless of gender, I can totally see this guy insisting a daughter be denied an education so she never learns anything scary or meets another actual person, and only being allowed outside with a surgical mask over her face Michael Jackson style because someone might look at her. They have a conversation about how she needs to tell her parents she's pregnant, and then immediately following that scene speaks to both her father and her mother and never mentions it.

Ana's been given permission to go home and does. After a shower scene that includes no sex much to Ana's disappointment despite her being in a massive amount of pain, she casually mentions that she doesn't understand why Elizabeth was helping Jack. "I do," says Christian. And this is where E.L. James completely looses whatever tenuous grasp she'd had on how cause and effect actually works. Because, you see, it turns out that up until Ana kicked him in the balls, Jack Hyde habitually raped ALL of his assistants. Not just raped them, but beat and raped them because "he likes it rough". BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. He also videotaped his assaults on all these women. But not to have some kind of fucked up souvenir rapist trophy to relive his experiences like a serial killer does. No no no, the videos are for blackmail. Elizabeth was helping Jack try to kill people because she was being blackmailed with a video of...her own rape? Whuuuuuuut. I cannot, CANNOT wrap my head around this explanation. At no point are we given the impression that the sex Jack was having with his assistants was in any way consensual. He didn't seduce them and now they are embarrassed about it, he AT BEST coerced them through having power over their careers, and more likely ATTACKED them the same way he attacked Ana. Those videos aren't blackmail, they are EVIDENCE. That not one of these women thought "Hey I can go to the police and tell them my rapist made a video of my rape" is completely ludicrous in and of itself, but that their reaction INSTEAD was "Oh shit! There's evidence of my rapist raping me that would totally put him in jail where he can't attack me again, I guess my only choice is to help him MURDER PEOPLE" MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO DONKEY FUCKING SENSE. No. Just, no.


Oh also in this scene, Christian decides to equate serial rape with a side of beatings with his own desire for consensual BDSM sex acts with happy and consenting women and concludes that he is pretty much the exact same amount of evil as Jack. ALSO NO. Also FUCK YOU.

Anyway, Ana reluctantly eats some soup, complains about not having sex, and takes a nap. When she wakes up, Christian has had a visit from his investigator dude and he is all shaken up because THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. Except it doesn't. Doesn't explain anything; doesn't make any sense. Ok, so remember how Christian was born in Detroit and Jack Hyde is from Detroit? As I predicted, it turns out they have a past. In between the time that Christian's crack addicted mom died and the Greys adopted him, he was fostered for a couple of months by some nice family that likes helping children. Christian has no memory of this and is convinced it is because it was so traumatic that he blocked it out, despite remembering tons of stuff from when his mother was alive that actually was traumatic. Personally I think he doesn't remember it because it was something that happened for a very short period of time when he was 4 years old, the same way I have no specific memory of the first time I saw Cinderella. The nice family that was fostering him was also fostering some other kids at the same time. GUESS WHO ONE OF THEM WAS YOU GUYS. As proof, Christian shows Ana a photo. In it are the nice family and their foster kids, including a terrified little grey eyed boy, and another slightly older boy who is scowling at the camera with unbridled hatred. The scared one is Christian, the angry one is Jack Hyde. Because you can TOTALLY TELL from a photograph taken 25 years ago exactly what kind of people those kids will be today. But here's the thing: even if that was true, this photo does not fit with the follow up explanation. Because the reason Jack Hyde hates and wants to destroy Christian is because the Greys adopted him and not Jack. There's so much about that that doesn't make sense here. For one thing, the Greys were ALREADY in the process of adopting Christian. He was only in foster care because adopting a kid takes a lot of paperwork as the state of Michigan isn't in the business of just giving kids away to whoever. It's not like adopting a dog from the pound where a family just picks a dog and the dog in the next cage had just as much of a chance and if dogs were sentient it might totally resent the dog that got adopted. This adoption was ALREADY HAPPENING before they ended up in the same foster home. Also, this level of resentment is just not reasonable. Are we supposed to believe that a kid harbors so much resentment that someone got adopted "instead" of him that he spends the next 25 YEARS OF HIS LIFE trying to find that kid and kill him? WHO DOES THAT? Maybe that's not what happened, because Christian says Hyde didn't start stalking his family until a few weeks after Ana started working there. So he coincidentally employs the girlfriend of a former foster brother, realizes who Christian is AND THEN goes into a murderous rage over it 25 years after the fact? Neither of these scenarios make sense. And as for the photo, if the thing that triggered his hatred was Christian's adoption, and in the photo Christian is not yet adopted, what exactly is he so angry about? This explanation for Jack's behavior is about as clear as an elephant's turd and has roughly the same chance of passing the smell test.

After this revelation, Ana decides Christian needs to ask his parents about his time in foster care that he can't remember because for some reason she thinks this will completely change his life. So they call his parents and ask them to come over. They do, knowing what they are planning to talk about, but inexplicably bring Mia with them, who just as inexplicably calls everyone else to come over because Christian's parents coming over to help him through a major existential crisis is the perfect time to throw a fucking party at a house you don't live in. Champagne is in order because Ana is either Batman or Batman's dumb-enough-to-wander-into-a-dark-alley-looking-super-rich parents, and Ana has an angry internal monologue about how mean Christian is for not letting her get all crunk just because she's pregnant. No seriously. It's so mean of him to only let me have just a little champagne, I should get to endanger my baby if that's what I feel like pout pout. CHOKE ON MY METAPHORICAL NUTS, ANA. After everyone finally leaves and more "explanations" that don't make sense happen, Ana and Christian get ready for bed. Ana wants sex because that's the whole point of their entire relationship but Christian says no, he wants to tell her a bedtime story instead. He wants to tell her the story of: How the Evil Elena Seduced Me when I was 16 and it Ruined My Life. Because for NO REASON AT ALL this seems like a great time for that. Ready you guys? Once upon a time....END OF CHAPTER. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY STILL DOING THIS JAMES?

Chapter 25 begins with "I can barely breathe." (You're recovering from getting repeatedly kicked in the ribs, stop being surprised.) "Do I want to hear this?" Well, let's see. You've been saying you wanted to hear this since the first time he told you he was sub to an older woman TWO BOOKS ago, and have hounded him for the exact details he's about to finally tell you for months on a practically daily basis so, I don't know, PROBABLY? I, on the other hand, most decidedly DO NOT want to hear this because I already know it is going to be a steaming pile of stereotyped pathological bullshit nonsense psychobabble demonization just like everything else in these fucking books and I hate you with every scrap of hate I have available plus some hate others have loaned me temporarily so I could have the requisite amount of hate for it, which is a value that exceeds my own personal capacity to hate. Oh, by the way, Christian's eyes are "full of disquieting memories". He has pensieves for eyes I guess. She should have just stuck her face in his eyes months ago. The crap fest unfolds thusly: One day, teenage Christian was doing yard work at Mrs. Lincoln's house because reasons. "Out of nowhere" she brings him some lemonade (he says this happens "out of nowhere" immediately after saying he was doing backbreaking work shoveling rubble. If my best friend's son is doing convict level labor in my backyard, bringing him some lemonade is not "out of nowhere" it's "not being a dick"). Then she 1. slaps him across the face, 2. kisses him, 3. slaps him again, 4. walks off without comment or explanation. I have never been a 16 year old boy; I have no idea if slapping one across the face repeatedly is a good pick up line for seducing one. But it probably wouldn't be my opening volley. He goes on with the stuff about not liking being touched and he couldn't kiss the girls at school because they wanted to touch him, but Elena kissed him without otherwise touching him so it was ok. Ana assumes she "must have known" about the not wanting to be touched thing because Christian's mother had told her and concludes that she was using this knowledge to trick him into fucking her somehow. It makes no sense. Christian goes on. This sort of thing started happening more often. And here's where James completely jumps the shark, because Christian says this whole experience was really really helpful for his psychologically damaged teenage self and it fixed everything. Actual quote: "It was exactly what I needed." Another actual  quote: "And even when it was over, my world stayed in focus because of her." Wow. A woman who cared about you came into your life, found a way to reach you, helped you get through a lifetime of emotional trauma and allowed you to gain the piece of mind you had so desperately been longing for? THAT MUST HAVE BEEN FUCKING TERRIBLE FOR YOU. I am not kidding you guys. He credits this woman with fixing EVERYTHING wrong, which, somehow, was wrong and sick and bad and something he is now ashamed of. ANOTHER actual quote which follows the first two: "It was only recently that I saw our relationship for what it was." By this he means terrible and abusive. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT? It was so helpful Ana! It solved all of my problems! WHAT A BITCH, AMIRITE? James, please explain to me, in clear language that follows a logical progression, how a relationship that turned a raging, self-destructive teenage borderline alcoholic into a calm, controlled, self-sufficient, successful individual is the worst thing that ever happened to him. BECAUSE THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL YOU INCOMPREHENSIBLE TWAT WAFFLE. Oh wait, nevermind. Here it is! Because in the middle of this conversation this sentence happens: "If you grow up with a wholly negative self-image, thinking you're some kind of reject, an unlovable savage, you think you deserve to be beaten (emphasis mine)." Oh, I see. So a relationship that restored a troubled youth to a reasonable degree of sanity was bad specifically because said relationship was BDSM based. This oh so helpful relationship was in fact not helpful at all because BDSM makes you a sick freak who doesn't deserve to be loved. Got it. Just one thing though:


No, seriously. Coat a giraffe in coarse sand and then shove its entire head and neck up your stupid shitty vagina. Yes, I said vagina, because "down there" is not what you call that when you're a fucking adult. Vagina. VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA.

After I put out the smoldering book that I accidentally set fire to when flames shot out of my eyes, the shit show continued. Christian now finally believes that Ana loves him, reason being she put herself in incredible danger for the sake of his family. You watch too many movies, Christian. In real life you can believe someone loves you based on their every day loving gestures without them having to put their self in mortal danger on your behalf. Christian also mentions that while he's happy about the baby, he's not sure yet if he will want further children. Ana freaks out in her head: "No...Not an only child. Not like me." This is the first time in this entire saga that Ana has made any sort of comment about having been unhappy about being an only child. When did this become a problem? You are supposed to be clearing all this shit up, James, not creating new pointless plot twists you'll forget about in ten seconds and never resolve. When Christian went to see Elena after the "how could you be so stupid getting pregnant" episode, Elena made a pass at him. Weird since they haven't had a sexual relationship in seven years, but he turned her down because he loves his wife, surprising both of them apparently. "It's been over since I laid eyes on you," he tells Ana. "I finally realized it that night and so did she." So, you didn't realize it was over until JUST NOW? You married someone else without being sure your other relationship was over? Classy! Then my favorite nonsensical plot point comes up again, that Christian feels that only a terrible garbage person would love their own mother if said mother was a prostitute with a drug problem. Toddlers should be excellent judges of character and should not condescend to love their parents if those parents have flaws or weaknesses. I don't understand this at all. I understand having issues related to his mother having failed him and then dying, but I do not understand how this translates into HE is a monster if he loved her anyway. Ana magnanimously decides she can now let this "Elena is a threat to everything" imaginary bullshit go (bet she can't!) and the horrifying conversation finally ends and they go to sleep.

The next morning, Ana wakes up alone. She is starving for sex. She is sure she hasn't gone this long without sex since ever. She is wrong about this: it's been roughly a week since she had sex. After the time he hit her with the belt and they broke up thus dramatically ending the first book, she didn't have sex for, I don't know, a month? It's September now in the book. She's only known this person for about, what, six, seven months? You have a remarkably shitty memory Ana, you should maybe sign up to or something. She wonders how someone as into sex as Christian is can have so much self control. She has spent three entire books telling us about how her husband has iron-fisted control over absolutely every single thing on the earth, this should not be a Scooby-Doo mystery for her. Is it because of THAT WOMAN? She's not sure. "We haven't spoken of the Bitch Troll once since his confession." I'm no expert Ana, but I think that's probably because that happened EIGHT HOURS AGO and you've been asleep since IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT CONVERSATION HAPPENED. After all this time, James can still surprise me with her astonishing inability to be internally consistent WITHIN THE SAME SENTENCE. She finds Christian in the kitchen and eats voluntarily for the first time in her entire life. Christian decides to take the day off work and they go over to see how work is progressing on their "green" but completely environmentally unfriendly house. On the way, she muses yet again on how laid back Christian has been since "the talk" (her quotes). For fear of repeating myself, Christian has only been awake for about two hours since that talk ended. James is writing these scenes as if months have gone by. She is the fucking worst at telling time. There is another example of this almost immediately. Construction is going well, and Christian's brother thinks they can be in the house by Christmas. Ana is excited; she can totally see her new baby boy looking up at the giant Christmas tree in wonder! I'm not sure why she can see this since she's five weeks pregnant and Christmas is three months from now. You are not going to have a baby at Christmas time, you are not even going to be halfway through your pregnancy. Please explain how you managed to get past the 2nd grade without being able to count to nine. After the house tour, they go outside for a picnic, during which Christian learns that it was Elena's ex-husband who posted Jack Hyde's bail, so immediately has his company destroyed, as you do. I don't know what this has to do with anything. There is no need for this plot point and she doesn't do anything to explain how this happened or why. How does he know Jack Hyde? Why is he only helping to kill Christian now when he caught him with Elena eight years ago and is long divorced from her? Why are we just now finding out that he used to beat the living shit out of her? Why does Christian own the majority shares of his company? What the fuck does Christian mean by "consolidate the shares into GEH"? (Investment expert hat on again: You can't just take shares you own of one company and decide they are now shares of a completely different company. That's not a thing. I can't even imagine what kind of business transaction James is trying to illustrate with this sentence.) I DON'T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS. Ana is scared? impressed? at Christian's impulse for vengeance and ability to take down another man's entire life with one phone call, so it's TIME FOR SEX, which happens on the lawn presumably in full view of the entire construction crew. It is boring, but leads to a conversation about something Christian had said the night before about missing BDSM sex. Suddenly she has no problem with it! Now that she's "saved" him from wanting it and stuffed him into prison of shame and guilt over it, it will totally be fun! Right? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

The last scene in the book proper is them going back into the sex room to do kinky sex things because since kinky sex is super bad for him they should totally start having it again. Or something. I don't know. I'm so used to her chapters ending in "dramatic" cliffhangers that when she actually finishes one like a normal human being I am totally confused. Also, I've been hammered over the head for THREE FUCKING BOOKS about how BDSM means you are both a broken damaged victim and a horrible rapist monster at the same time and it is something you must be rescued from and can ONLY be rescued from by the love of a selfless and determined woman. Why is this even happening? YOU JUST SAID THIS WAS BAD. The actual sex scene isn't in there, it's just suggestive talk up to the door of the room followed by another syrupy and moronic declaration of love for her abusive dipshit husband. AAAAAND SCENE.

THAT'S the ending? You've left so much unexplained. The eight million questions I have about this thing with Elena's ex-husband. Since when is Ana upset at being an only child? What's happening with Jack Hyde? Will Ana have to testify? Why won't you tell your parents you're pregnant? Why is BDSM suddenly ok now? How does Christian know everything and have more access to people's secret information than the fucking NSA? Is he Biff Tannen? What happened to all the shit about Ana not wanting to run a company and Christian insisting on buying it for her? Why can't you understand the passage of time? Why does anyone think Ana is smart or good at anything? Why does being a billionaire make abuse romantic? WHAT JUST HAPPENED YOU GUYS?

There's actually three more chapters, but they are all epilogues of sorts and I will address them all in another post. I will also, at StereoNinja's suggestion, be doing a video review of the new Fifty Shades movie trailer that's supposed to come out roughly now, so there's that to look forward to.


Sandy said...

Here it is!!
Is that even a real trailer?!

Anyway, thanks for going through these 3 terrible books for us.
It is now finally over!

Rubyfruit said...

Hi there! I've been reading all your recaps and have been awaiting the one of the last few chapters with bated breath, especially since I'd finished reading the whole trilogy a couple of weeks ago, and re-reading your commentary from the beginning.

And everything you said is true about these chapters. Nothing makes sense anymore, including why anyone would read these books and think they were sexy or romantic.

Hannah said...

I agree with everything you've said apart from this "I hate you with every scrap of hate I have available plus some hate others have loaned me temporarily so I could have the requisite amount of hate for it"
You could borrow every scrap of hate that every person in the world has and it still wouldn't come close to how much hate EL James deserves.

DaRob said...

As always, Amberance, Thank you for subjecting yourself to this torture on our behalf. I have started the paperwork to have you nominated for the civilian equivalent of the Medal of Honor for your ongoing sacrifice.

Sincerely, Rob's Brain.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

These reviews have saved me the pain of enduring these books myself. Book-lovers across the world are indebted to you for your sacrifice.

Q said...

Man I've missed your reviews. Reading these are pretty hard to fathom so reading the last two books I think will damn near ruin me. Thanks for enduring this for us!

Timothy Vinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Vinson said...

As a prize for subjecting yourself to these shitty books on our behalf, i give you this prize.

This is a link to an artdeviant (thats not a slur it's just what you are on that site) that has a grownup realistic take on BDSM relationships. plus its in comic form and looks gorgeous.

Sorry if you don't have an account and have to create for the adult content stuff...

Amy said...

They actually broke up for 5 days after the belt incident.

Lucky Vine said...

"...if dogs were sentient..."

~ WTF is that supposed to mean? 'Sentient' is defined as being "able to perceive or feel things" and "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions." So of course dogs are sentient! How could you think otherwise? Even some PLANTS are sentient!

Lucky Vine said...

"I hate you with every scrap of hate I have available plus some hate others have loaned me temporarily so I could have the requisite amount of hate for it, which is a value that exceeds my own personal capacity to hate."

~ LOVE it.

"Coat a giraffe in coarse sand and then shove its entire head and neck up your stupid shitty vagina."